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Subjects: Political Science and Social Policy


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The following state-of-the-art learning experiences were developed at Columbia University by distinguished faculty members working closely with our skilled instructional technology staff. Three to five hours in length, these in-depth multimedia e-seminars are free to Columbia students, faculty, and staff.

TitleSourceDescription
America Since 1945—E-Seminar 1, The Post–New Deal Order
Columbia Learning Experiences
Alan BrinkleyWhat was once routinely known as "the postwar era" is now a period of more than half a century, during which the United States has probably changed more rapidly and profoundly than during any other period of its history. Historian Alan Brinkley offers an introduction to and a framework for understanding the United States since 1945.

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America Since 1945—E-Seminar 2, The Politics of Anticommunism
Columbia Learning Experiences
Alan BrinkleyIn this e-seminar, the second in a series of ten, Professor Brinkley examines the Cold War, a key event during the "the postwar era," a period of more than half a century, during which the United States has probably changed more rapidly and profoundly than during any other period of its history. He analyzes the Cold War as a force in American domestic life, one that had an important impact on the relationships among and the distribution of power within many of the central institutions of American life.

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America Since 1945—E-Seminar 3, The Stable Fifties
Columbia Learning Experiences
Alan BrinkleyIn The Stable Fifties, the third e-seminar in the series America Since 1945, Professor Alan Brinkley examines the shift in American economics and culture that occurred after World War II. While many other combatant countries faced a slow rebuilding period after the war's end, the United States celebrated a vast and steady economic boom that began during the war and continued for the next twenty years. Professor Brinkley examines aspects of American middle-class culture during the Eisenhower years, including the rise of television and the expansion of the suburbs. He also offers a perspective on the Eisenhower presidency.

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America Since 1945—E-Seminar 4, The Subversive Fifties
Columbia Learning Experiences
Alan BrinkleyIn The Subversive Fifties, the fourth e-seminar in the series America Since 1945, the eminent historian Alan Brinkley discusses a variety of early counterculture movements—literary, social, and environmental—whose origins date back to the 1950s and early 1960s. He also covers the roots of the civil-rights movement, discussing the Montgomery bus boycott, in which Martin Luther King Jr. first gained national attention.

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America Since 1945—E-Seminar 5, Kennedy, Johnson, and the Great Society
Columbia Learning Experiences
Alan BrinkleyIn Kennedy, Johnson, and the Great Society, the fifth e-seminar in the series America Since 1945, the eminent historian Alan Brinkley focuses on the administrations of Presidents John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. Professor Brinkley compares and contrasts these two great figures of the 1960s and analyzes the social programs, such as the Great Society and the war on poverty, that became landmarks of the period.

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America Since 1945—E-Seminar 6, The Civil-Rights Movement
Columbia Learning Experiences
Alan BrinkleyIn The Civil-Rights Movement, the sixth of ten e-seminars in the series America Since 1945, historian Alan Brinkley discusses one of the most important social movements in twentieth-century American history. He analyzes the events that propelled and shaped the civil-rights movement, the growing national awareness of racial inequalities in America, and the social policies that were created in response to those inequalities.

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America Since 1945—E-Seminar 7, The Vietnam War
Columbia Learning Experiences
Alan BrinkleyIn The Vietnam War, the seventh of ten e-seminars in the series America Since 1945, historian Alan Brinkley discusses the policies and decisions that led to the expansion of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.

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America Since 1945—E-Seminar 8, Cultural Revolutions
Columbia Learning Experiences
Alan BrinkleyIn Cultural Revolutions, the eighth of ten e-seminars in the series America Since 1945, historian Alan Brinkley discusses the turbulent years of the 1960s and the broad social changes that altered cultural and individual expression in American society.

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America Since 1945—E-Seminar 9, The Age of Limits
Columbia Learning Experiences
Alan BrinkleyIn The Age of Limits, the penultimate e-seminar in the series America Since 1945, Professor Alan Brinkley examines the shift in the prevailing outlook and worldview of Americans during the 1970s, as assumptions about economic abundance and American power gave way to a new awareness of scarcity and constraints.

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America Since 1945—E-Seminar 10, The Rise of the Right
Columbia Learning Experiences
Alan BrinkleyIn The Rise of the Right, the final e-seminar in the ten-part series America Since 1945, historian Alan Brinkley discusses the emergence of conservatism as a powerful political and cultural force in the United States during the past quarter-century.

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Nonviolent Power in Action—A Series of Three E-Seminars
Columbia Learning Experiences
Dennis DaltonThis series of three e-seminars is based on Dennis Dalton's enormously popular course, which he has taught since the late 1960s, on the nature and power of the Gandhian political philosophy and practice of nonviolence.

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Nonviolent Power in Action—E-Seminar 1, Gandhi: Discovering the Power of Nonviolence
Columbia Learning Experiences
Dennis DaltonGandhi: Discovering the Power of Nonviolence is the opening e-seminar in a series of classes based on Dennis Dalton's extremely popular and chronically oversubscribed course on the nature and power of the Gandhian political philosophy and practice of nonviolence, which Dalton has taught since the late 1960s.

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Nonviolent Power in Action—E-Seminar 2, Martin Luther King Jr.: An American Gandhi
Columbia Learning Experiences
Dennis DaltonIn his second e-seminar, Professor Dalton examines the practice and theory of the man who has been called "an American Gandhi," Martin Luther King Jr. In this e-seminar, Professor Dalton grounds Martin Luther King Jr. in the historical backdrop of Montgomery, and discusses King's very explicit principles and tactics of nonviolence.

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Nonviolent Power in Action—E-Seminar 3, Gandhi's Disciples
Columbia Learning Experiences
Dennis DaltonGandhi's Disciples is the third e-seminar in a series based on Dennis Dalton's extremely popular and chronically oversubscribed course on the nature and power of the Gandhian political philosophy and practice of nonviolence, which Dalton has taught since the late 1960s.

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Medical Ecology: Environmental Disturbance and Disease—E-Seminar 7, Food: Land Use and Health Risks
Columbia Learning Experiences
Dickson DespommierIn Food: Land Use and Health Risks, the seventh and final seminar of the e-seminar series Medical Ecology: Environmental Disturbance and Disease, Professor Dickson Despommier touches upon the last of Earth's great zones: land. He focuses his discussion on agriculture, our primary use of land, and the large impact that agriculture has on biodiversity and climate change.

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Poverty, Wealth, and History in the East End of London—E-Seminar 1, Life and Work
Columbia Learning Experiences
Paul JohnsonUsing Spitalfields, a historic corner of the East End, as a window onto the history of social and economic change, historian Paul Johnson explores the rich and dramatic history of the East End of London and uncovers the larger religious, political and social fault lines that have divided and defined British society.

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Covering Terrorism—A Series of Two E-Seminars
Columbia Learning Experiences
Brigitte L. NacosIn her two-part e-seminar series, Covering Terrorism, Brigitte Nacos, associate professor of political science at Columbia University, examines the marriage of convenience that exists between terrorists and the media in the light of 9/11.

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Covering Terrorism—E-Seminar 1, The Media and 9/11
Columbia Learning Experiences
Brigitte L. NacosIn the first e-seminar in her two-part e-seminar series, political science professor Brigitte Nacos examines the marriage of convenience that exists between terrorists and the media. In this seminar, Professor Nacos focuses specifically on how the media's coverage shaped the events of September 11 and what unfolded after the attacks occurred.

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Covering Terrorism—E-Seminar 2, How the Media and Terrorism Shape Public Understanding
Columbia Learning Experiences
Brigitte L. NacosIn this second e-seminar in her two-part series, political science professor Brigitte Nacos examines how the tangled relationship between terrorists and the media has helped to create today's more lethal form of terrorism. Using recent examples of terrorism such as the Oklahoma City bombing, Professor Nacos raises questions about defining terrorists and terrorism, the influence of the end of the Cold War on international terrorism, media responsibility for terrorist acts, and other related topics.

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Tiananmen: June 1989 and Its Significance—A Series of Three E-Seminars
Columbia Learning Experiences
Andrew NathanIn this three-part e-seminar series,Tiananmen: June 1989 and Its Significance, Andrew J. Nathan, one of the leading scholars of modern Chinese politics and human rights, examines the most important event in the movement toward democracy in China—this time, explaining it from the point of view of the government itself. Professor Nathan's interpretation is based on a new understanding of the events of the Tiananmen uprising and its suppression, offered by the publication of hundreds of previously secret memos, minutes of meetings, and other internal government documents.

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Tiananmen: June 1989 and Its Significance—E-Seminar 1, The Roots of Crisis
Columbia Learning Experiences
Andrew NathanFrom one of the leading scholars of modern Chinese politics and human rights, this seminar is a look at the most important event in the movement toward democracy in China—this time, explained from the point of view of the government itself. This examination, based in part on a new understanding offered by the publication of hundreds of previously secret memos, minutes of meetings, and other internal documents, sheds light on the perspective rarely considered when discussing the events of June 1989 in China.

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Tiananmen: June 1989 and Its Significance—E-Seminar 2, Chinese Democracy and Its Future
Columbia Learning Experiences
Andrew NathanProfessor Nathan, one of the leading scholars of modern Chinese politics and human rights, traces the history of democracy in China in Chinese Democracy and Its Future, the second e-seminar of Tiananmen: June 1989 and Its Significance. Professor Nathan analyzes the differences between Western and Chinese conceptions of democracy. He also investigates the history of constitutions in China, and the role that constitutions play in Chinese politics.

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Tiananmen: June 1989 and Its Significance—E-Seminar 3, Behind Red Walls: Changing Politics in China
Columbia Learning Experiences
Andrew NathanThis third and final seminar in the series examines what the Tiananmen Papers reveal about the workings of the Chinese political system. Professor Andrew J. Nathan discusses the process of internal documentation in the Chinese government and details its attempt to control any damage that might be caused by the publication of these highly classified documents. In the process, he looks at the question of political succession in China and considers the future of political reform and what form democracy in China might take if it is achieved there.

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A Political History of Pakistan
Columbia Learning Experiences
Philip OldenburgProfessor Oldenburg, a leading scholar of South Asian culture and history, unravels the story of Pakistan, delving into the tumultuous past of this Muslim nation. Carefully examining its struggle to establish a national identity throughout the half-century of its existence, he narrates Pakistan's history from the viewpoint of its Muslim majority population while also explaining the perspectives of those nations with whom Pakistan has been at war.

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The Politics of Pollution—A Series of Two E-Seminars
Columbia Learning Experiences
David Rosner and Gerald MarkowitzIn their two-part series The Politics of Pollution, Professors David Rosner and Gerald Markowitz examine the impact of industrial production on the well-being of workers and consumers alike. They explain how corporations have sought to avoid regulation and scandal by concealing negative health effects associated with their product, and they discuss the public outrage and activism that results when such hazards are revealed.

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The Politics of Pollution—E-Seminar 1, Lead Poisoning and the Industrial Age
Columbia Learning Experiences
David Rosner and Gerald MarkowitzIn Lead Poisoning in the Industrial Age, the first e-seminar in a two-part series, Professors Rosner and Markowitz focus on the lead industry as emblematic of industrial pollution and industrial disease in the late nineteenth through mid-twentieth centuries.

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The Politics of Pollution—E-Seminar 2, The Modern Threat of Plastics
Columbia Learning Experiences
David Rosner and Gerald MarkowitzIn The Modern Threat of Plastics, the second e-seminar in the series The Politics of Pollution, Professors Rosner and Markowitz focus on plastics—in particular, polyvinyl chloride (PVC)—as the paradigmatic substance of industrial disease of the second half of the twentieth century.

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Oil in the Arab-Persian Gulf
Columbia Learning Experiences
Jean-Francois SeznecIn his e-seminar Oil in the Arab-Persian Gulf, Jean-Francois Seznec, Professor at Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs, examines the intricacies of the oil trade in the Arab-Persian Gulf and its global impact. In the course of looking at the interplay of oil and politics in the Gulf region as well as in Europe, Professor Seznec discusses new technologies being used to find and harvest oil, and goes on to consider the political fallout from the use of some of those technologies.

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Iran—A Series of Three E-Seminars
Columbia Learning Experiences
Gary SickIn his three-part series on Iran, Professor Gary Sick introduces us to a nation that is still actively struggling to find its balance between the competing influences of Islam and nationalism, economics and independence, and populism and autocratism. In the first e-seminar in the series, Professor Sick explores Iran's unique form of Islam; in the second he focuses on the tumultuous relationship between the United States and Iran; and in the third, he offers a firsthand account of how America's leadership reacted to the Iranian revolution.

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Iran—E-Seminar 1, Islam, Revolution, and the Modern State
Columbia Learning Experiences
Gary SickThe first in a three-part series on Iran, this e-seminar explores the fundamental question of how Iran can create a new form of Islam that will respond to the realities of the modern world. Gary Sick, adjunct professor of international affairs and acting director of the Middle East Institute at Columbia University, introduces us to the modern Iranian state.

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Iran—E-Seminar 2, U.S. Policy in the Persian Gulf
Columbia Learning Experiences
Gary SickIn the second e-seminar of his three-part series on Iran, Gary Sick, adjunct professor of international affairs and acting director of the Middle East Institute at Columbia University, traces the path of revolution, wars, political crises, and missed opportunities in the Persian Gulf that has led the United States from twin pillars to dual containment and beyond. By exploring the evolution of U.S. security policy in the Gulf, Professor Sick sheds light on America's policies in the region today and offers insights into possible future directions.

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Iran—E-Seminar 3, Revolution, U.S. Policy, and Cold War Politics
Columbia Learning Experiences
Gary SickIn the final e-seminar of his three-part series on Iran, Gary Sick, adjunct professor of international affairs and acting director of the Middle East Institute of Columbia University, focuses on the Iranian revolution of 1979. A member of the U.S. National Security Council during the Carter administration, Professor Sick offers a firsthand account of how U.S. political leaders perceived and reacted to the events leading up to the revolution.

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The Politics of Health Care—A Series of Six E-Seminars
Columbia Learning Experiences
Michael S. SparerIn The Politics of Health Care, a series of six e-seminars, Michael S. Sparer, associate professor of public health at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, discusses the evolution of the health-care system in the United States, its existing framework, and current policy proposals.

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The Politics of Health Care—E-Seminar 1, The Roots of Health Care in the United States
Columbia Learning Experiences
Michael S. SparerPrior to the 1940s, American federal and state governments played a minor role in the nation's health-care system. But gradually, with the rise of the hospital and the increasing sophistication of the medical profession in the late-nineteenth century, governments began to regulate health care, especially as the system of health insurance evolved, first sponsored by the hospitals themselves, later by nonprofits and, starting in the 1970s, by commercial providers.

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The Politics of Health Care—E-Seminar 2, Medicare, Medicaid, and the Legacy of the New Deal
Columbia Learning Experiences
Michael S. SparerMost Americans get their health-care insurance through their employers. But what happens to those Americans who fall outside this system? What happens to the unemployed, the elderly, and the disabled, and to employees who do not receive health insurance from their employers? Who pays for their health care?

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The Politics of Health Care—E-Seminar 3, The Uninsured
Columbia Learning Experiences
Michael S. SparerToday, over 40 million Americans lack health insurance—increasing their risk of receiving poor-quality health care and of becoming ill. The uninsured in America are less likely to receive necessary diagnostic tests and more likely to forego recommended therapies. For example, uninsured children are less likely to be treated for ear infections than children who have health insurance. Similarly, uninsured women are less likely to undergo regular mammograms to screen for breast cancer, while uninsured men are more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer at a later stage of the disease.

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The Politics of Health Care—E-Seminar 4, Managing the Managed-Care Revolution
Columbia Learning Experiences
Michael S. SparerIn the fourth e-seminar in his series The Politics of Health Care, Michael S. Sparer, associate professor of public health at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, discusses the rise of health-maintenance organizations (HMOs) and other forms of managed care.

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The Politics of Health Care—E-Seminar 5, Managed Care in the Public Sector
Columbia Learning Experiences
Michael S. SparerIn the fifth e-seminar in his six-part series The Politics of Health Care, Michael S. Sparer, associate professor of public health at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, explores the divergent paths of managed care in the public sector, comparing its respective impact on Medicaid and Medicare to date and discussing its future.

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The Politics of Health Care—E-Seminar 6, Long-Term Care
Columbia Learning Experiences
Michael S. SparerIn the final e-seminar in his six-part series, The Politics of Health Care, Michael S. Sparer, associate professor of public health at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, investigates the crisis in long-term care in America.

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Israeli and Palestinian Nationalism—A Series of Two E-Seminars
Columbia Learning Experiences
Naomi WeinbergerIn this e-seminar series, Professor Naomi Weinberger examines conflicts that have arisen in the Middle East and assesses the sources of conflict—nationalist, ideological, ethnic, sectarian, economic, territorial—on the interstate level and as precipitants of intervention in civil strife. The emphasis is on the attitudes of regional actors, but the role of outsiders, either in exacerbating regional hostilities or in serving as peacemakers or peacekeepers, is also considered.

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Israeli and Palestinian Nationalism—E-Seminar 1, Debates over Partition
Columbia Learning Experiences
Naomi WeinbergerThis e-seminar series looks at the history of Israeli and Palestinian nationalism and the resulting conflicts that have arisen in the region. In this first e-seminar of the series, Professor Weinberger discusses the legacy of the Palestinian mandate, the evolution of Zionist ideology and Palestinian nationalism, and contemporary debates among Palestinian factions and Israeli political parties. She examines the major interstate wars (1948, 1956, 1967, and 1973) and peacemaking efforts.

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Israeli and Palestinian Nationalism—E-Seminar 2, Competing National Movements
Columbia Learning Experiences
Naomi WeinbergerIn the second e-seminar of this series, Professor Weinberger examines Palestinian nationalism and the history of early Zionist thinking, outlining the debate over whether Palestinian nationalism developed as an independent philosophy or merely a reaction to Zionism. Professor Weinberger highlights critical differences as well as striking parallels between the two national movements.

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Israeli and Palestinian Nationalism—E-Seminar 3, Wars: Strategies and Outcomes
Columbia Learning Experiences
Naomi WeinbergerIn this e-seminar, the third in a series of eight, Professor Naomi Weinberger looks at the Arab-Israeli interstate wars of 1967, 1969-70, and 1973. After examining why 1967 in particular was a watershed in the relationship between Israel and the Palestinians as well as a major turning point for Israel's national image, Professor Weinberger looks at the forgotten war, the War of Attrition of 1969-70, and shows how it helped Egypt prepare for the 1973 war.

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Israeli and Palestinian Nationalism—E-Seminar 4, The Israeli Foreign Policy Debate
Columbia Learning Experiences
Naomi WeinbergerIn this e-seminar, the fourth in the series Israeli and Palestinian Nationalism, Professor Naomi Weinberger examines the evolution of the complex Israeli system of political parties and elections, and the creation of new voter constituencies from Israel's more recent immigrants.

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These learning experiences were developed by Fathom in cooperation with Columbia University, and are hosted by Fathom. They are typically one hour or less in length, and are offered free of charge.

Capital Punishment in the United States: A Forum on Death-Penalty Issues
Columbia Learning ExperiencesFathom Archive
Cambridge University Press, Columbia University and University of ChicagoIn this seminar, presented in the form of a lively debate, four leading experts discuss reasons why the U.S. still retains the death penalty at a time when many other countries in the world have abandoned capital punishment. This forum introduces many of the socio-economic, racial, and legal issues surrounding the use of capital punishment, and questions whether the death penalty actually protects the interests of American society at large or is biased against the poor and against minorities

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Producing Jihad: The Al Qaeda Recruitment Tape
Columbia Learning ExperiencesFathom Archive
Columbia International Affairs OnlineOsama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network has employed a variety of methods to disseminate its ideology. This seminar examines one of its recruitment tapes in depth and evaluates its significance as a propaganda tool.

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Hungary in Transition
Columbia Learning ExperiencesFathom Archive
David StarkIn this seminar, Columbia University professor of sociology David Stark examines Hungary's political and economic structures before and after the fall of Communism. He provides a case study of communist-sanctioned entrepreneurial factory practices that helped smooth the eventual transition to a market economy, and looks at the use of media and metaphor in the new publicly held elections in Hungary in 1989-90.

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